John Curtis, Republican nominee for Congress, recently ran a Facebook ad in which he called on supporters to “Tell Congress to build the wall.”

United Utah Party candidate Jim Bennett profoundly disagreed with the ad’s message.

“Dictators and despots build these kinds of walls, not Americans,” Bennett said. “This ad represents an extreme position that is out of step with the values of the people in the Third District.”

Curtis quickly pulled the ad, later taking to Facebook to explain that it had “rightly caught many people off guard,” and that he regretted the “divisive words” used in it. Yet further in his explanation, he insisted that “[i]f the best idea to protect our country is a wall then I will wholeheartedly support it.”

Bennett called Curtis’s statement confusing.

“He says he regrets the ‘divisive words’ used to describe the wall, but those words were simply ‘build the wall.’ And then he says he can ‘wholeheartedly support’ building the wall, although he throws an ‘if’ in there to muddy the waters,” Bennett said. “So what, exactly, is he apologizing for? And does he support a wall or not?”

For his part, Bennett said he does not support a border wall.

“A massive wall along the southern border would be nothing but a huge scar on the landscape,” Bennett said. “It would be wildly expensive, hugely impractical, and do little or nothing to actually prevent illegal immigration.”

Bennett observed that most illegal immigrants arrive in the United States with temporary visas and then remain in the country after those visas expire, and a wall would do nothing to deter them. “I support rigorous enforcement of our immigration laws, and a wall wouldn’t help in that effort,” Bennett said. “The wall is essentially a symbolic gesture by the Trump administration to pander to the worst instincts of the president’s most xenophobic supporters.”

Bennett believes this controversial ad highlights the partisan pressures Curtis would face if elected. “On the campaign trail, John has tried to distance himself from President Trump, but with this ad, he’s embracing one of the president’s most extreme proposals,” Bennett said. “And now he’s unwilling to give a clear signal as to whether he stands with his party or whether he stands with the values of the Third District on this issue. There’s a real tension there, and it’s only going to get worse over time.”

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